Aviva Premiership
Cohen confirms retirement
ESPNscrum Staff
May 15, 2011
Sale Sharks wing Ben Cohen, Northampton v Sale, Guinness Premiership, Franklin's Gardens, October 24, 2009
Cohen was part of the England side that won the 2003 World Cup in Australia © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Ben Cohen
Tournaments/Tours: Aviva Premiership
Teams: England | Sale Sharks

Former England wing Ben Cohen has announced his retirement from game after 15 years of top flight rugby.

The 32-year-old, a World Cup winner with England in 2003, has decided to hang up his boots after failing to secure a new deal with current club Sale Sharks or any of their Aviva Premiership rivals. The former Northampton and Brive speedster, who bagged 31 tries in 57 international appearances, will now concentrate on his work with the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, an anti-bullying organisation.

Cohen has developed a role as an advocate for equality and the rights of the individual over the past few years through his work with the gay community both in the UK and the USA and is excited by the challenges of his new career.

"To be honest, I would never have imagined my career was going to move in this direction after my professional rugby career, but here we are - it's happening," he said. "It is incredibly exciting and we have so many plans in the pipeline to be able to make a difference.

"In my view, rugby is a very inclusive sport. Everyone can get involved in one way or another, so I will be using it as a vehicle to drive my message of acceptance out to people from all walks of life, everywhere. There is a lot of work to be done. Attitudes need to change. Young people should not be bullied into taking their own lives. That is what is happening and it needs to stop."

Cohen, voted Sale's Player of the Year this season, began his professional career with the Saints as a 17-year-old and he would remain at Franklin's Gardens for the next 11 years during which time he shared in their memorable Heineken Cup triumph in 2000. His performances also brought international recognition the same year and he would go on to tour with the British & Irish Lions in 2001 and play a key role in England's famous World Cup triumph in 2003 after which he was awarded an MBE.

"I have reached the top in my sport," he added. "It has been an incredible journey and has put me in the privileged position I am in today to be able to work on these exciting new projects through the StandUp Brand. As athletes, it is not enough just to have strong bodies. We must have strong characters and use our voices to support those who need and deserve it."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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